8 April, 201512 April, 2015 Without Prejudice Richard Blake reads from “The Curse of Babylon” Share this:PayPalEmailPrintFacebookTwitterPinterestTumblrLinkedInRedditPocketLike this:Like Loading...
After the Pathians were overthrown and replaced by a new Persian Empire, society radically changed.
A semi caste system emerged (perhaps influenced by the Indian example – although without the Indian religious justification) and whereas the Pathians had allowed religious freedom, the new rulers favoured the old Persian religion and (unlike the old Persian rulers) persecuted other religions (for example the much cited Persian Imperial tolerance for the Jews leaves out that the Jews were highly restricted in where they could live – they had not been under the Pathians).
I suspect that the idea of as semi caste system (with people being forced into the occupation of their fathers) that emerged in the Roman Empire with the Emperor Diocletian was influenced by the Persian example – the Romans became very influenced by the Persian example in many things.
Even under the Carus – a Roman Emperor was still, at least in form (and that does matter, a military commander of the Res Publica – the modest dinner and lack of ritual of Carus being compared the grand tents and endless ritual of the Persian enemy of Rome. With Diocletian the Emperor starts to dress as a Persian despot, not a Roman military commander – and people are expected to crawl on the ground (like worms) “prostrating” themselves before the Emperor.
The Roman Republic from Augustus onwards was a pretend Republic.
The Emperors (mostly) cut their hair short, and dressed (at least in public) as military commanders of the Res Publica (as with a “plain Republican cloth coat”, which Richard Nixon claimed his wife wore in the 1950s, how one dressed indicated one’s political opinions in the late Roman Republic – Octavian dressed and lived like a Republican so even Cicero made the mistake of thinking he was one) – but it was fake, they were tyrants (not Constitutional officers). However, even the pretence of being Western commanders is worth something, Emperors who were too blatant in their despotism broke the rulers (and did not tend to die a natural death).
From Diocletian onwards the Empire is no longer Western – it imitates the East, and does so openly. And this is even before Constantine and his state religion (not really Christianity – but under that name).
The endless ritual and the Emperor (sane Emperors – not just lunatics) presenting themselves as divinely appointed.
It becomes Byzantine – more Persian than Western.
The army concentrated round the Emperor (for fear that border commanders would revolt) and living in the big cities – not kept in military camps near the borders (and far away from the moral corruption of the cities).
No wonder they had a habit of marching into ambushes.
Sean Gabb (in his various Byzantine works) is correct – the Western barbarians (the Franks, the Angles, the Saxons, and so on) were culturally inferior to the Byzantines.
After all the Westerners could not even work out how a sewer system should work – even the technologically advanced Norse never worked how to live in large towns in a healthy way (the bodies in York are full of parasites – things the Byzantines, with their living traditions of urban life should work, avoided).
But the late Romans and the Byzantines had also lost something – they were no longer really a Western people, They had grown used to despotism – with the only checks on it being conspiracies among the elite, or savage revolts by the mob (which could turn on anyone who had wealth), with common soldiers making themselves rulers, without any support from the land holders (who were not independent military figures in the East).
Perhaps Venice was the best of both worlds.
The engineering of the Roman world is remembered and practiced (otherwise the city would have sunk into the mud), but so was the “Sprit of the West” (for want of a better term). Constitutional rule – not despotism and/or mob revolts.
The Republic of Venice lasted a thousand years – before its destruction by Napoleon (indeed its language and culture is only really destroyed by the Italian state in the late 19th century). Yet it is oddly neglected by authors.
Perhaps Richard Blake should turn his attention to it.
Very well read.
Although I think I heard (although I may well have misheard – 588 would be Persians, so would 619) the date “688” – by that time the Persians had been long conquered by the forces of Islam.
True some remnants of Persian culture remained. But the Islamic Empire was very Arab in this period – the Omayyad dynasty based in the recently captured (but extremely ancient) city of Damascus.
Besieging Constantinople in 669 and in the period 674-680 (the unhappy reign of Constantine IV).
Visigothic Spain was at its political, and cultural, peak in this period.
Within a few years the forces of Islam would destroy it utterly.
Thanks. Re date, you have misheard
My mistake – the old man is looking back from 688. “Almost 70 years before” would be Persians.